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PSDA (the Print Services and Distribution Association) is the largest community of experts in print, graphics, distribution and marketing services, partnered with the manufacturers and suppliers who support them. For more than 50 years, PS Magazine has provided PSDA members with forward-thinking perspectives from industry experts on topics such as sales and marketing, technology, business management, innovation and more. As the most respected voice for the industry, the magazine has long been the go-to resource for industry trends and insightful perspectives.
In the April 2020 issue of PS Magazine, Laurie Hileman has written an article about Gelato.
Tackling international print needs for your customers?
The online print platform Gelato takes the hassle out of printing, billing and logistics.
More distributors are landing accounts in lands far away. International business is no longer the realm of large distributors only — smaller distributors are winning contracts with overseas clients, as well as U.S.-based customers with global locations. Armed with slick e-commerce systems and backoffice technology that makes international transactions easier, distributors who aren’t large can seem like they are. Simply put, the world seems smaller than it used to be. But while the demand for on-time, on-brand print materials is high among international organizations, complex issues arise for distributors, including customs, foreign currency, calculating shipping costs, and ensuring color and brand specifications as manufacturing partners use different devices in different cities.
Some companies have positioned themselves to make those logistics easier for print and marketing services providers. One such firm is Gelato, a Norwegian-based online print ordering platform that gives customers access to local printers around the world, without owning a single printer themselves. Here’s how Gelato does it and how distributors can benefit from a user-friendly global printing, billing and logistics solution. Reduced transportation costs and lower print volumes mean more money in your customer’s pocket, fewer headaches and a significantly lower sustainability footprint for all.
Pal Naess, co-founder and senior vice president of growth projects at Gelato, likes to share a customer story involving a global company that placed an order for 500 brochures in Singapore.
Curious about such a large order, the Gelato account manager called to confirm what was needed. She learned the company was used to ordering the 1,000-piece minimum from its printer in London and then shipping the brochures overseas. To them, cutting the order quantity in half seemed logical. The account manager urged the company to order only what it truly needed.
The result? What used to be 1,000 brochures printed in London and shipped via airplane (with inevitable customs hurdles) became 180 brochures printed locally and delivered in Singapore. “This example is really core to the business of who Gelato is,” Naess says.
Founded in 2007, Gelato began as Optimalprint, an online card and photobook ordering site. But as the company and its network of printers steadily grew, the Gelato team asked itself how it could leverage its printer network to help make global companies more sustainable. Ten years later, the firm is flipping the traditional print-central/ship-global model on its head by offering on-demand, local printing in 30 countries while delivering to 104 countries around the world.
“It’s our ambition to make one of the biggest industries in the world more sustainable,” Naess says. He argues that by printing local and on demand, companies print much less and transportation costs go down. He refers to it as Gelato’s “90/50” ambition: to decrease transportation distance of customers’ print materials by 90% and thus reduce their printing volumes by 50%.
Controlling Quality Across Borders
Sustainability goals aside, the questions for most distributors boil down to quality and on-time delivery. With different printers and papers in the mix, how can a distributor confidently know that the brand standards, color exactness and quality expectations of the client will be met every time?
Naess points to the rigorous standards and testing Gelato requires of its print partners. The company has spent more than a decade working closely with printers, taking into account each press and its settings, as well as paper types, machine operators, how print files are designed and extracted to PDF, and even the humidity in each production facility.
Gelato printers are prepared, and the company backs them up with a 100% refund guarantee with every job.
Files come in from the Gelato system ready to print, with no prepress steps required. “As any printer can attest, 100% consistency is impossible, but thanks to our careful quality control, we manage to get as close to perfect as possible,” Naess says. When problems arise, Gelato’s 24/7 customer support is on hand to help.
In large part, Naess says, Gelato print partners run HP Indigo presses, and the company works very closely with HP to “make the calibration the ultimate best.” Expansion into other press manufacturers is also in the works, starting with a Canon inkjet press.
When it comes to paper, Gelato looks to source locally whenever possible. It has developed a system of paper data points that includes thickness, brightness, whiteness, opacity and shade. It matches those data points across locations so each printer has access to the same types of paper. Customers have the option of ordering printed brochures, booklets, magazines, flyers, leaflets, posters, roll-ups, canvasses, business cards, invitations, cards and more.
Work That Flows
While it’s known as a printing platform, customers rely on Gelato just as much for its billing and logistics capabilities.
According to Naess, the Gelato team has worked hard to develop an efficient workflow with printers for both ordering and production. “We examined the whole process, from receiving of the order all the way to the logistics of the tracking of the product on the way,” he says. Orders are on the press within 24 hours and usually arrive within two to four business days.
One of many challenges that Gelato has solved during the past 10 years is developing a user-friendly payment and billing system. “The complexity of treating VAT [value-added taxes] and other taxes across all of the countries, currencies and prices is a complex project. It’s one we’ve spent a lot of time on,” Naess says. Now customers can prepay or be invoiced by location in 30+ currencies, or, if the company chooses, headquarters can retain control.
Other features of the platform include reporting, user management and asset control, single sign-on, multilanguage support and translation services. While the platform does boast its own digital asset management capabilities, it also offers an application programming interface (API) solution to easily integrate with companies’ existing platforms, including web-to-print e-commerce systems. “Our goal is to offer global print capabilities to any company,” Naess says.
Thanks to technology and future focused thinking by companies like Gelato, opportunities with international companies are nothing to shy away from. The power to offer on-demand, local printing with rapid delivery all around the world is in the hands of all distributors.
Read the full article hereFor more information, please contact: Pål T. Næss SVP Growth Projects & Co-Founder email@example.com
To learn more visit gelato.com